Emerald Feather

Fourteen

"You wouldn't be able to teach me that sensing thing, would you?" Keena asked. They had been walking along the beach back to the river mouth for three days, and now they were just finishing up on their evening meal. The days had been overcast as the Monsoon season approached, but it made it more comfortable to walk along the beach.

"Don't see why not. It's not particularly difficult." He licked his fingers and crossed his legs, indicating to Keena to do the same. "Kay, close your eyes and send your magic out, but don't let it do anything. Think of it as being like arms and try and feel for my magic."

Keena reached out in Ninyo's direction with her magic, feeling it like she was reaching out with a third arm, but she told it sternly not to kill anything, just to feel for others of its kind. It wasn't long before she could see in her mind's eye a swarm of flowing green energy, in roughly the same shape as Ninyo. She opened her eyes.

"That's it?"

"That's it. Didn't teach you earlier though, didn't have the right control over your magic to stop it from killing."

"Fair enough. Would we be able to use it to find Aaka? I mean, I haven't seen him since we were first captured."

"I know, I've been trying to sense him for ages, but I can't. I'm hoping it's only because he's a bird, not because he's yeah." He looked like he was about to say something else, but decided against it.

"What?" Keena asked.

He paused. "You don't still have the jewel, do you?"

"Yeah, why?" She took the now almost black jewel from her sword sheath and dropped it on the sand.

Ninyo hesitantly picked it up and studied it carefully. He held it in a fist for a few seconds, concentrating hard on it, then opened his hand again.

"What're you doing?"

"Trying to make it green again," he answered, holding it again in a fist but with no results. "By the looks of it it'll be black in a few days. I thought that since it used to have Green Magic in it, I could put the Green back in somehow."

"And what would that accomplish?"

He sighed and tossed the jewel back onto the sand. "I dunno, maybe give our baby Green Magic again."

"Is Black Magic really that bad?" Keena asked, resting her head on his shoulder.

"From what I've heard, yeah." He sighed again. "You know, we haven't even named him yet."

"Yeah, I've been thinking about that. You got any ideas?"

"I was originally thinking Ngunu, but now I'm not so sure."

"Ninyo, that child has lived inside me since the end of the last Monsoon. I'm not giving up on him just because he's got different magic to mine." I don't want to be like my family was with me.

"You must feel slightly nervous about the whole thing though, don't you?"

"Well, yes," she admitted, "but not to the extent that we give up on him."

"We're not giving up on him. We're going to find him and teach him how to control his magic and everything will be fine."

"So why not call him Ngunu?"

"Just in case," he answered awkwardly.

"So what do we call him?"

"Dunno, you had any ideas?"

"Miliko's been running through my head for no particular reason."

"Righto, Miliko it is then." He stood up and punched the evening sky with is fist. "We're coming Miliko!" he yelled, "We don't care what it takes, we're getting you back!"

It was late in the afternoon when they returned home. It was the same as it always had been, only now there were tracks of footprints lining the sand.

"So we meet again." The serene figure of the healer stood beside a coconut palm smiling pleasantly. "I figured you'd come back here."

The pair instantly drew their swords, eyes sparking green with anger.

"Come a step closer and you'll die," Keena threatened through barred teeth.

"You have nothing to worry about," the healer told them calmly, "As you can plainly see, I carry no weapons, and my magic is to heal, not to hurt."

"So why are you a part of the group that tried to kill me and my child?" Ninyo growled.

"I'm not. I used to be, but after seeing what they did to you, for no reason, I couldn't stay with them for any longer." She looked sympathetically at Ninyo's injuries. "I've come to apologise for what they did, and to lend my services."

Ninyo's sword lowered slightly. "You mean heal me?"

"That's what my magic was made for."

Keena didn't buy it. "How do we know you're not setting a trap for us?"

"I don't know, you'll just have to trust me. My name's Iis, by the way."

"Why'd you ever join them if you all the time their intention was to kill?"

"Because I thought all they wanted to do was kill the Black Magic, free the person with it, but what they really want to do is kill anyone with it. That I just don't agree with. Please let me heal you Ninyo, then I'll leave, I promise. I can see you're not comfortable with me around."

Keena and Ninyo exchanged glances, and eventually they both lowered their swords. Iis smiled and walked lightly over the sand to Ninyo. He turned around and let her work her magic. Right before her eyes, Keena saw the long slash down Ninyo's back turn from crusty dry blood to new, shiny pink skin. The same thing happened with the cuts on his chest, stomach and face, then the gruesome burn on his shoulder and the side of his face.

When Iis took her hands away, Ninyo smoothed his fingers over the newly healed skin. "Thank you," he said warmly. He was obviously more than relieved to have the pain disappear so easily.

"It's the least I could do," Iis replied, bowing her head. "You'll have a few scars, but there's nothing I can really do about that." She turned and walked back into the trees, her long white hair flowing behind her.

"Wait," Ninyo called her back, much to Keena's annoyance. She wasn't ready to trust the girl just yet.

"Ninyo!" she hissed, "What are you doing?"

He ignored her. "Just wondering if I could ask you a few questions."

"I don't see why not," Iis answered, taking a seat on the sand. Ninyo and Keena sat down in front of her, though Keena was not impressed by the idea.

"How'd you end up with them in the first place?"

Iis's smile faded and her pale pink eyes looked down at her knees. "Put simply, Qillan killed my family in front of my eyes. Black Magic is so powerful you can actually see it working, I won't horrify you with the details, but you get the idea." She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "I should have died too, but Qillan left me alive so she could watch me suffer. They found me soon after that and told me the same thing had happened to each of them, so they had formed a group so they could 'banish Black Magic'. That's what they told me, anyway."

"How did you think they were going to do it?" Ninyo continued.

"I thought they were just going to somehow kill the magic inside her, so she would still live, but the magic that turned her evil wouldn't."

"And you do this how?" Keena was beginning to catch on to what Ninyo was thinking.

"I don't know myself, and judging by what they were thinking, they don't either."

"Either that or they felt it was Qillan herself that killed your families."

"It's possible."

"Well," Ninyo said, slapping his hands on his knees, "I think your idea of attacking her magic is quite plausible, actually."

Keena looked at him. "Again, we do this how?"

"That I don't know," he answered, "But it can't be that difficult really. I mean, Black Magic attacks our magic, why shouldn't ours be able to attack Black Magic?"

"Fair enough," Keena answered, shrugging, "But we'll need a lot more Green Magic than we've got, if Black Magic is so powerful you can see it."

"We'll start looking tomorrow." He turned back to Iis. "Iis, could you look for more healers? If things get ugly, we may need your help."

Iis smiled broadly. "I'd be more than happy to provide it."

Fifteen